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How A Toothpick In My Foot Taught Me A Lesson

A month ago I stepped on a sharp pointed tooth pick which went between my toes and awkwardly sat in my foot until I yelled at my partner in a slightly hysterical voice, that he should do something about it. The hero that he is, he quickly came to my rescue and with one swift pull he removed the toothpick without leaving any evidence of its presence in my foot. For three days all seemed normal. I had no pain, maybe just a twinge reminding me that a toothpick had protruded from my foot for a moment- but otherwise nothing. But on the fourth day I woke up to a different foot. It was swollen and getting bigger by the minute. Where the toothpick had rested there was a volcano of ugly blue and black. It looked evil!

With two visits to the doctor I was put on an antibiotic that slowly began to reduce the infection. It was the threat of going to the hospital however that did the trick. My body kicked into healing mode and I was on the way to recovery.

I can hear you asking yourself what is the point of my relating this not too pretty story. Yes I went through an unpleasant experience, but recovered from it and all is well once again. So unless there is some sort of moral to this story why should anyone continue reading? Well although this incident did not lead me to enlightenment it did leave me with an insight that I would like to share.

As a counsellor specialising in relationships I work daily with couples helping them amongst other things to identify their negative thoughts about each other and their partnership, and change them. These thoughts are born out of fears, jealousies, hatreds and other vulnerabilities that were either brought into the relationship at the start, as unfinished business, or have crept in as the relationship has experienced unresolved problems.

In counselling sessions partners learn how to identify their vulnerabilities, address the thoughts that accompany them, remove negativities and replace them with more compassionate statements. This may be a hard process but the rewards are worth it.

Counsellors too recognise the need to identify their vulnerabilities and implement strategies to eradicate their negative thinking patterns. This is one reason that counsellors constantly partake in Professional and Personal Development activities. And as a result of all the work we do we like to think that we are making progress with our own personal growth just like our clients.

But counsellors are human and also experience set backs in their personal development. If we don’t practice what we preach and continue to hold on to our own fears, jealousies and negative thought patterns we make ourselves vulnerable to both personal and relationship stress. And like our clients we are most likely not aware of what we are doing as we simply get swept up into a vortex of dysfunctional thinking.

And now the connection between my accident and the above discussion. Shortly before I stepped on the toothpick I was faced with a situation which instantly stirred up some unfinished business I had around my relationships. Until then my thoughts had been pleasant and my interactions were comfortable. I had not been pestered by negative thinking. But obviously there were still some issues that needed to be addressed as I was soon overwhelmed with disruptive thoughts that had the potential to negatively impact on my relationships.

When not engaged otherwise I was absorbed by my thoughts and became totally unaware of my environment. So unaware that I stepped on a toothpick. The experience was horrible but it woke me out of my negative stupor and forced me to look at how I was harming myself through holding on to my dysfunctional thoughts.

And so while my foot healed I took steps to heal my mind. In the same way I work with my clients I challenged my thinking, pragmatically explored any benefits my thoughts offered and came to the conclusion that my thoughts could hold me back from having the relationships I wanted and from living the life I desired. It was time for a change.

I am pretty sure that not too many people have stepped on tooth picks while they were caught up in their unhealthy thinking. But there is a good chance that some have tripped over furniture, bumped their heads, dropped important objects and have been totally unaware of the harm they were causing themselves and their relationships by getting lost in a web of negative thinking.

Sometimes a bump or fall or a toothpick in your foot is just an accident- but sometimes it can be a jolt into awareness necessitating a change on your part.

All this awareness is a gift in itself but my toothpick experience enriched my life even more. Daily as I sat with my foot elevated in a chair I felt an enormous amount of gratitude. I thought about all the horrible things that can happen in life and I was grateful that my experience was not one of them.  And each day as my foot slowly healed I felt both relief and an overwhelming appreciation for my life.

Even though I have shared this personal story through my writing it is not something that I would easily share in a counselling session. My story is just a way of expressing the importance of being aware of what we are thinking and how negative thoughts can impact on both body and mind. It is a story about learning and growing no matter who we are.

Counselling: http://www.zahava.com.au/counselling/
Coaching: http://www.zahava.com.au/life-coach

3 comments ↓

#1 Edwin on 01.26.11 at 3:26 am

Hello:
I read Yaro’s blog about your toothpick, and it got me to think about the things that happen.
Now I’m not a great blogger but all the same I enjoy blogging.
About two weeks ago I had a spell that led me to post on your blog.
I fainted and as normal I wouldn’t have gone to seek medical help if it had not been for my kids concern.
My wife is in a heath center so I’m the only one they have to care for them. Granted I’m not great at it but I try boy is it trying some times. Your a mom you know what I’m talking about.
As a single parent it’s not easy to stop the feuds they get into and still try to stay sane.
Any way The next day I went to see the doctor and after some test they informed me that I had had a small stroke.
This is the reason for this post. Too many times we take small thing for granted and go on with our lives when we should really look at a deeper problem.

In relation to your post many times we can find a cure for a small problem before it gets out of hand.
If we keep hiding the little things they snowball and go out of control.
Now I have started to take control over my little problem and with proper care and exercise I can get thing under control.
After all I’m only fifty still a young pup don’t you think?
Thanks
Edwin

#2 Counselling Connection » Blog Archive » An Insight on Relationship Counselling on 02.01.11 at 11:56 am

[…] Read the full article here… […]

#3 Natalie Chandler on 02.01.11 at 10:50 pm

What a great blog! This is so true- I am a Therapist see so many couples who have waited too long. If you can get help before issues and thinking gets too out of control, there is hope!

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